Sunday, October 21, 2018
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Taylor Swift’s Tampa concert: Parking, weather, surprise guests and everything else you need to know

We're just days away from one of the biggest Tampa Bay concerts of the year: Taylor Swift at Raymond James Stadium. One of the world's biggest pop stars, she'll bring her Reputation Tour to RayJay on Tuesday, Aug. 14.

Heading to the show? Here's a primer on everything you need to know.

What time is the show?

RayJay's parking lots open at 10 a.m. for all-day tailgating, and the ticket office opens at noon. Gates to the show open at 5 p.m. As for specific set times: Charli XCX will take the stage at 7, Camila Cabello around 7:40, and Swift around 8:45. The show should end before 11 p.m.

Can I still get tickets?

Indeed you can. Tickets currently start at $67 on Ticketmaster, and there are some extremely close pit seats still available for $350 and up. On StubHub (to name just one resale site), you can find cheap seats starting at $46.55.

Too rich for my blood. How can I get free tickets?

Listen to the radio! Several local stations will be giving away tickets through the day of the show. Click here for all the details.

MORE: Taylor Swift, Imagine Dragons, J. Cole top massive concert week

Can I buy meet-and-greet passes?

Not really. But Swift's team — including her family members — has been known to meander concert venues handing out passes to her "Rep Room," the official backstage hangout area where you will probably get to meet Swift herself. To get one of these, you pretty much have to work a ton of magic on social media and/or be insanely lucky — but it doesn't hurt to look your Swiftiest. So wear costumes, bring handmade gifts, do whatever you can do to make yourself seem worthy of one of the most coveted tickets in the world.

What's the deal with parking?

You can purchase premium parking in advance starting at $40 (click here). On the day of the show, parking is $30 on site, though it may be cheaper in private lots and streets away from the stadium.

If you'd prefer to use Lyft or Uber, the drop-off site is located off Dale Mabry Highway near the overhead pedestrian bridge. The pick-up zone is located at Steinbrenner Field, across Dale Mabry from the stadium — use the pedestrian bridge to get there.

What happens if it rains?

At the moment, there's a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms on Tuesday, which, well, welcome to Florida. Click here for the latest forecast. The concert is a rain-or-shine event, which basically means if it gets rained out, it probably won't be rescheduled.

FALL CONCERT PREVIEW: From Taylor Swift to Toto: More than 50 fall concerts in Tampa Bay

What's not allowed in the stadium?

Aside from the usual prohibited items (drones, weapons, pets, lasers, drugs, umbrellas, coolers; it's a long list), you can't bring GoPro cameras, lights, battery packs or signs larger than 11 by 17 inches. In addition, the stadium's clear-bag policy will be in effect. Click here for details on that.

And what IS allowed?

Ponchos, blankets, binoculars, banners, flags and other select items. Get many more day-of-show details here.

Will all this hassle be worth it?

By all accounts, yes. Reputation is Swift's most divisive record yet, an indisputable blockbuster, yet one whose biggest, darkest songs lack the endearing qualities of her earlier work.

RELATED: 'Reputation' review: Taylor Swift should know she's better than this

But across the board, reviews for the Reputation Tour have been raves. "Her finest yet," wrote Rolling Stone. "The peak of her career," wrote Billboard. "A summer spectacle that won't be topped," wrote the Cleveland Plain Dealer. (We won't spoil the setlist, but if you're curious, you can check it out here.)

These are receipts Swift won't mind keeping — especially when she's earning a reported $10.3 million per show.

But will it be better than Swift's 1989 Tour?

Oooh, that's tough. That tour, which ended in Tampa on Halloween night in 2015, featured surprise guests almost every night, and became a culture-dominating phenomenon. The Tampa show brought surprise appearances from Alessia Cara and Idina Menzel, who joined Swift in full Frozen costume for a duet of Let It Go. Here's our review of that show.

Should we expect any surprises in Tampa?

Possibly! Swift has sneaked out a few guests on this tour, including Shawn Mendes, Selena Gomez, Troye Sivan, Hayley Kiyoko and Bryan Adams. But it's not like it's happening at every stop. What's more likely is the possibility of a deep cut from Swift's catalog. At almost every stop this tour, she's performed a "surprise song," including some that stretch way back in her career, like Teardrops On My Guitar or Our Song.

Tuesday is so far away! How can I pass the time until then?

Check out this cool project by Times designer and Taylor Swift superfan Tara McCarty. She spent months analyzing the lyrics to every single Taylor Swift song — every word, every reference, every possible meaning — to see what she could learn about who Swift really is. Did you know 78 percent of her songs are about guys? Or that she's used the word "baby" 126 times? Or that 29 percent of her songs are nostalgic in nature? Click here for the full rabbit-hole dive!

— Jay Cridlin

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